Baton Rouge homeowners petition city to remove designated bike lanes

Homeowners petition city to remove designated bike lanes
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There is a big battle brewing in the Hundred Oaks neighborhood over a special lane for bicyclists.

The City of Baton Rouge striped a portion of Glenmore Avenue nine years ago. Residents said they thought it was help to slow traffic. But when tickets started popping up on their cars, they learned it had a different meaning.

Mark Martin never leaves home without his wheels.

"I haven't had a car for 25 years now," Martin said.

The avid cyclist said a lot of times he has to weave in and out of traffic to get around. The idea of designated bike lanes, where cars are not allowed, is like a dream come true.

Baton Rouge has a set of them on Hundred Oaks Avenue and Glenmore Avenue.

"It's a major connector route for getting from downtown to places further afield," Martin said.

The thought is to keep cyclists and cars in separate lanes to increase safety and efficiency on the streets. Cyclist Gordon Mese, who was hurt while riding in a bicycle, said he would like to see the city create more of them.

"That's where the world has been for a while and now this country. So we need to keep working toward that," Mese said.

Cyclists are concerned the city might take a step backward by removing the designated bike lanes.

The lanes became the center of discussion under the old oaks after some longtime homeowners were ticketed for parking in front of their own houses. Arthur Abercrombie said it took the neighborhood by surprise.

"Several people who were parked in the lane in front of their house were accosted by some bikers who stopped with their cell phones and took photographs of their license plates, stayed there, and insisted the police come and give them tickets," Abercrombie explained.

There are signs posted long the bicycle routes that state "No Parking Any Time." The lanes are striped and stamped with symbols indicating the space is for cyclists. But Abercrombie said it was not always that way.

"They had changed the legal definition of the lane to a designated bike lane about a year ago without our knowledge," Abercrombie said.

Abercrombie and 53 of the 58 homeowners who live on Glenmore Avenue have signed a petition to request the designated bike lane become a shared space so that they or their guests can park on the street. But cyclists said it defeats the purpose.

"We are not out there every day, but occasionally we may have someone working in the yard or in the house, a contractor, or we might have a party," Abercrombie said.

"Let's flip the script and get a bunch of cyclist to park their bikes in the middle of the travel lanes. Would not only the neighbors who live there and the people who use the street immediately call the police and say we've got a problem, there's bicycles parked in the lane," Mese said.

Petitioners said they do not want to chase cyclists out of the streets, they simply do not want to be penalized for using the space in front of their properties.

"If the white stripe remains we like it. If they keep designating it as a bike lane and they tell us we can't park in front of our house without getting a ticket from police, that's our problem," Abercrombie said.

The petition has been notarized and will be sent to the city for review.

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